“To believe it” – a photo exhibition about Lee Miller, September 11, 2020

From the Lee Miller Archives, England, we received an information with an invitation to a unique  photo exhibition  at the Erfurter Kunsthalle.

This exhibition documents part of Lee Miller’s photographic heritage. It mainly documents that part of her photographic work, which is probably one of the most important that she has left us: her war photographs. And so, on the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, Lee Miller’s photographs return in a way to the locations where those photos were taken.

Lee Miller is no stranger to us. In 1945, she also photographed the “REIMAHG” factory from Buchenwald concentration camp. Today, her photographic legacy is managed by her son Anthony, with whom we have been friends for many years.  

The exhibition documents a large number of her recordings in a highly representative design. The motifs speak for themselves and the captions are profound. What captivates the viewer is the expressiveness of the motifs, which is reinforced by the uniformly white design surfaces. It’s an impressive exhibition that you should definitely look at.

Lee Miller (1907-1977) was known as a model, muse and surrealist photographer from Poughkeepsie, NewYork. Discovered and worked as a sought-after model for photographers  such as Edward Steichen and George Hoyningen-Hueneat the age of 19  by  the publisher of Vogue.   She moved to  Paris and became  the partner of Man Ray and belonged to his artistic circles. Here she was immediately as active behind the camera as before.  Later, upon her return in New York, she opened  her own successful photo studio and  exhibited her photos  for the first time at the Julien Levy Gallery.

In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, she was in London, then returns to New York and works as a photographer for Vogue.

In 1944, Lee Miller was accredited as one of the few female military correspondents in the U.S. Army, working closely with photographer David E. Sherman, Time-Life and Vogue. They witness and document the liberation of Paris, the meeting of the U.S. and Red Army in Torgau as well as the capture of the Berghof in Berchtesgaden and the liberation of Buchenwald and Dachau. 

In Munich, in April 1945, a photo of her, taken by Sherman, was taken, which became an icon. The picture shows Lee Miller sitting in a bathtub, taken in Hitler’s private apartment.

After her stay in Munich, she moves on and is in May 1945 in Thuringia. Here she captures the horrors of Buchenwald concentration camp in photos. Her way leads her to Jena, where she mentions many bomb damage in her diary. In this she also describes her subsequent visit to the “REIMAHG”.

Together with other well-known female photographers, she inspects and photographs this facility. She takes photos of Bunker 0, which still has some half-finished Me-262s, as well as the different locations at Walpersberg. As a souvenir, she takes a pair of scissors from “Stelle O”.

She married Anthony Penrose in 1947 and continued to work for Vogue and Life. She died of cancer on July 21, 1977.

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